Mayor in Mexican tax row cuts Protestants' electricity

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The Independent US

A storm has erupted in a small town in central Mexico after the Catholic mayor cut off water and electricity to the town's Protestants.

Catholics in the town of San Nicolas in central Mexico had even threatened to forcibly remove 36 Protestant families this weekend, but city officials, religious leaders and lawyers representing the families have now delayed the action until 17 July, when another round of negotiations is scheduled to begin.

The problems began in March when the group, mainly families converted by American missionaries, refused to pay council taxes for the traditional celebrations for the patron saint of San Nicolas. According to custom, the taxes provide food for the entire community during the festivities.

When the Protestant families refused to take part, town officials turned off their water and electricity supplies. "We are being obliged to pay dues and sign an agreement denouncing our faith," local Protestant leader Guillermo Cano said. "When we refused they began shutting off the water."

Mr Cano said that the Protestant community was subsequently threatened by locals wielding machetes and throwing stones.

Tension has been running high in San Nicolas, 155 miles north of Mexico City, since 1998, when Protestants were forbidden to bury their dead in public cemeteries.